More than one-third of the graduating class of 216 was recognized with a little more than $2 million in financial awards or other honors in front of a packed house at the Wapakoneta Performing Arts Center Tuesday.
“We thought this was an exceptional class,” Wapakoneta High School Principal Aaron Rex said. “We really pushed kids to apply for scholarships this year. The parents and our guidance counselors deserve a lot of the credit — and the students should be proud of their hard work in the class and at home. The students will be able to come out of college without as much debt.”
Amy Snider, the daughter of Cindy and Rick Snider, received a bevy of awards and scholarships during the ceremony, including the Carl Elliot Award and the Bill Chrismer Award.
The Carl Elliot Award is awarded in memory of Carl Elliot, who was killed in 1944 while serving in the Pacific Theater during World War II shortly after graduation from Blume High School. The award represents a student with strong leadership skills, character and responsibility. The Chrismer award is presented to the best overall student in the graduating class and comes with a $1,000 scholarship.
“Right now I feel like it is quite a blessing,” Snider said following the ceremony. “It is sort of humbling. It is definitely an honor that they felt I deserved it.”
Snider’s father said his daughter’s success was a culmination of hard work.
“There was many times I found her working on her school work past midnight,” Rick Snider said. “I would have to tell her to go to bed. Then she would always be the first one up in the morning at 5 a.m. working again.”
Snider’s mother said her success was kind of ironic.
“Amy has a servant’s heart and wants to continue to serve people,” Cindy Snider said. “Because of other people’s generosity, she has gotten some good things back and it allows her to go back out there and keep on serving.”
Snider plans to attend Huntington University in Indiana and will study education and missions.
“I am not sure what I am going to do yet,” Amy Snider said. “I just want to be with kids — whether it be as a teacher or missions or something else, I want to be with kids.”
Trevor Hayes was also honored numerous times, receiving the Paul E. Fisher Jr. award and the Scott Lahmon scholarship. The Lahmon scholarship is named in honor of a 1988 Wapakoneta graduate who was working as a Wapakoneta Daily News sportswriter who died in a car crash.
“I was totally surprised,” Hayes said. “A lot of awards were on the wall by the office and I didn’t see my name. I didn’t realize how much I had saved until my dad figured it up. I have about three-fourths of what I will owe for going to school.”
Hayes mother, Joretta, said her son has developed the work ethic that will make him successful.
“He is an incredible boy,” Joretta Hayes said. “Over the course of high school he has worked hard and his faith and values are important to him. He is a man of his word.”
Hayes plans to attend Cedarville University and will pursue a degree in graphic design. He hopes to become a cartoonist.
Three graduating seniors — Stephanie Greve, Sierra Williams and Kaleb Hilleary — were given full scholarships after signing up for the military. Hilleary was met with an ovation after it was announce that he intended to hold off on college so he could volunteer for service in Afghanistan.
The military awards were in addition to all other education benefits already available to military.
Kelsi Rupersburg was named the recipient of the Bill Heil Scholarship award in memory of the former St. Joseph School janitor.
“We were glad to see the big turnout,” Rex said after the ceremony. “We like to see the parents here and see their children rewarded for their hard work. Its nice to see the kids get some recognition for their hard work.”
A total of 42 separate awards were given out to the students.